Steps to a flea-free life for your pet

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by Vetsavers of St Thomas’ Road, Spalding

As soon as you see your dog or cat scratching then chances are it has fleas. This week veterinary nurse Suzhy Winfield looks flea allegy dermatitis.

What is Flea Allergy Dermatitis?

As the name suggest it is an allergy. It is an allergic skin disorder which occurs when a dog or cat is sensitive to flea saliva.

When a flea bites a dog or cat it injects it’s saliva into the animal. Flea saliva contains many antigens which some dogs and cats are very susceptible to.

Flea allergy dermatitis is the most common allergy in dogs and is a very itchy and painful condition.

Your dog may not have many fleas but it only takes one bite from one flea to trigger the allergic reaction.

Flea Allergy Dermatitis is most common in the summer because that is when fleas are most prevalent and us as vets see a lot of this condition.

What are the Symptoms of Flea Allergy Dermatitis?

The first symptom you may notice is severe itching and inflammation of the skin. The dog and cat will scratch and bite at affected areas often causing damage to the skin which may develop into circular, red painful sores called hot spots.

These hot spots can occur anywhere but are most commonly seen along the back and at the base of the tail.

As the condition progresses there may be hair loss, broken hairs, oozing or crusty sores, pimply bumps and general redness and inflammation of the skin. The sores can be very painful. In severe cases the skin becomes thickened and dark, predominantly in the area on the animals back at the base of the tail.

Sadly the animal itself does the damage with self mutilation due to the severe itching.

What is the Treatment for Flea Allergy Dermatitis?

It is probably quite obvious that you need to get rid of fleas from your pet. Just one single flea can cause terrible symptoms. Fleas must not only be removed from your pet but also from your house and environment so that the pet is not re­infested.

There are many effective products available from vets that can kill fleas within hours. These come in different forms, a topical spot on treatment applied to the back of the neck, or collars and for cats there is an injection available.

Again there are the equivalent good products for treating the home, carpet powders and aerosols.

You must be absolutely dedicated to the task of removing all fleas from your pet and the pet’s environment. It is important to treat all of your pets and your home on the same day.

Antibiotics and antifungal medication my be prescribed by your vet to treat the secondary bacterial or yeast infections. Your vet may put your pet on a short course of anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve the inflammation, however, the only long term treatment for flea allergy dermatitis is total flea control and not allowing one single flea to come in contact with your pet.

It may seem like an impossible task but with vigilent care and attention to an effective protection programme your pet can enjoy a flea free life...as can you.